Looking for a list of things to do in Sydney?
Growing up only an hour north of the city, we have discovered many things to do in Sydney for all tastes and budgets and at any time of the year.
You can’t travel to Australia without visiting Sydney and whether you have only a few days, or longer, add some of these Sydney activities to your list.
1. Learn to Surf at Bondi Beach
I don’t think you could get any more Australian then learning to surf at Bondi, Sydney’s iconic beach.
Bondi is the perfect beach for any beginner as the beach faces south so you are protected and the surf is not so wild. Not only that, but the scenery as you bob about in the ocean in anticipation for the next wave is simply something to write home about. Let’s Go Surfing is the only learn to surf company in Bondi.
2. Kayak Middle Harbour
I’ve known Sydney Harbour all my life and spent plenty of ways getting to know her. But experiencing her on a kayak Caz discovered a different side: quiet, calm, and natural. The Middle Harbour Eco Tour with Sydney Harbour Kayaks has been one of her most unique experiences in Sydney.
Climbing one of the most famous bridges in the world over one of the world’s most stunning harbours is a once in a lifetime experience.
Take either a dawn, day, twilight, or night climb and take in the breathtaking views. Over 2.75 million people have climbed the bridge. Visit BridgeClimb.com to join them.
4. Walk Across the Harbour Bridge
A cheaper option than the Bridge Climb is to simply walk across the Harbour Bridge for free and take in the same panoramic views on a lower level. OR, visit the Pylon Lookout for just $11 and get fantastic views plus 3 levels of exhibits and learn about the history and construction of the Bridge.
5. Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is one of the best discoveries about Sydney. We can’t believe we grew up near Sydney and it took us 30+ years to do it.
It is a stunning walk and the perfect way to spend a gorgeous day. There are plenty of coves and beaches to stop for a swim along the way should you get too overheated, or stop at a cafe for a drink and bite to eat.
Take in the Views from North Head for a sensational and different view of the Sydney skyline and the Four Heads Entry into Sydney Harbour. Flaming Galah Tours do a half day beach and bush tour of Sydney’s spectacular Northern beaches.
7. Walk through Hyde Park
Hyde Park is Australia’s oldest park and the city’s central open green space popular among office workers who want some fresh air, a quick siesta or some time out from the concrete jungle. The park contains numerous monuments and statues, and the central pathway through the park is an impressive fig lined road. Over the summer months the park is a hive of activity.
8. Eat a Pie from Harry’s Cafe De Wheels
Harry’s Cafe de Wheels is an Australian icon serving pies, pasties and hot dogs to celebrities, tourists and locals.
Their Pie and Peas is a particular favourite and Harry’s has become a ‘must’ for visiting celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Sir Richard Branson, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Brook Shields, Billy Crystal, and Anthony Bourdain. City locations include Woolloomooloo and Haymarket.
9. Tall Ship Cruise on Sydney Harbour
Imagine eating fresh oysters, barbecued prawns, crab rolls, whilst sipping on a glass of champagne and listening to a band play traditional Australian folk music as you tour Sydney Harbour on a replica of a timber tall ship.
But don’t drink too much champagne as you can climb up a 15m ladder, otherwise known as a mast and admire the views and take photos. Visit SydneyTallShips.com.au
10. Sunset Cruise on Sydney Harbour
Need something a little quicker than a tall ship? How about taking a small private cruises of Sydney Harbour instead of one of the big tours that herd you around in massive boats that lose the personal touch.
Each sail has a maximum of 12 people, helping you to feel like you are more on a sailing day out with friends rather than a sight seeing tour. Visit SeaSydneyCruises.com.au and cruise like a local.
11. Royal National Park
The Royal National Park, Australia’s oldest National Park is situated only an hour south of Sydney.
The park’s diversity is in its coastal cliffs surrounded by sandy beaches and mountainous sandstone ridges with deep river valleys that are home to a mixture of Eucalyptus woodlands & temperate rainforest. If your timing is right, consider a Moonwalk in the park.
12. Vivid Festival
Vivid Sydney is a unique annual event of light, music and ideas transforming the city at night time. Every May the hugely popular Vivid lights get switched on in a free lighting display around The Rocks District and Circular Quay.
The festival features 50 interactive and immersive light art sculptures, illuminated skyscrapers and large scale 3D mapping projections on the Sydney Opera House, Museum of Contemporary Art and Customs House.
The biggest Christmas concert in Australia, Carols in the Domain in the Botanical Gardens is a magical way to bring in the Christmas spirit.
Lay out a picnic blanket on the grass with your family, or a group of friends, grab a candle and sing along to your favourite carols with thousands of others. Visit CarolsintheDomain.com
14. New Years Eve in Sydney
If you’re in Sydney for New Year’s Eve, you’ll be in one of the first places on the planet to experience the start to another year. Around 1.5 million spectators line the harbour foreshore to witness arguably the world’s best New Year’s Eve celebrations.
The world-famous Fireworks can be seen all the way from Gladesville Bridge to the Heads of Sydney Harbour. Details at SydneyNewYearsEve.com
Photo Credit: Chanc
15. Sydney Mardi Gras
It started as a celebration that was met with police batons and prosecutions. Three decades later, it has evolved into a riot of vibrant energy, outrageous floats, lavish costumes, and wild dancing.
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of Australia’s hottest tourist attractions with 9,000 people performing in a rainbow extravaganza of LGBTQI pride. Hundreds of thousands of spectators line the streets to watch the procession of exotic costumes and political slogans.
16. Razorhurst Bar Tour
The Razorhurst Bar Tour is a tour of some of Sydney’s infamous small bars in Darlinghurst. This neighbourhood never used to be the trendy and expensive area that it is now.
It used to be full of illegal shenanigans: bootlegging, laneway gambling, buzzing brothels, drugs, and bloody razor gang fights. Visit BarTours.com.au
17. Explore the Rocks District
The Rocks is an historic area of Sydney’s city centre, and it just might be our favorite part of Sydney. There is a story around every corner when you explore the Rocks.
Learn about the history of the area at the Rocks Discovery Museum. Walk the cobblestoned streets, browse the weekend market stalls, stroll along the Harbour, or go on a pub crawl and dance the night away to the live music. Some of our favourite pubs are the Observer, Australia Heritage Hotel, and the Harts Pub.
18. Observatory Hill
Just behind the Rocks District you will find Observatory Hill, a noteworthy place to visit on its own for some sky and star gazing. The Hill gives you a different view of the Harbour Bridge and one worth the climb up the hill to take a picture of.
19. Sydney Tower
Sydney Tower (also known as Centrepoint Tower or just Centrepoint) is Sydney’s tallest free-standing structure standing at 309 m (1,014 ft) above the CBD.
It has an observation deck, and for an unforgetable Sydney experience consider the Sky Walk 268 metres above the city streets where you look down through a glass floor viewing platform.
20. City 2 Surf Fun Run
Are you a serious runner or simply enjoy a fun run? Since it’s beginning 40 years ago, the City2Surf has been acknowledged as Australia’s premier road race and one of Sydney’s favourite sporting events.
Join 80,000 people on the 14km journey from Hyde Park in Sydney’s CBD to Bondi Beach. Learn more at City2Surf.com.au
Photo credit: Charlie Brewer
21. Walk & Eat in Surry Hills
Surry Hills is one of Sydney’s most artistically-vibrant neighbourhoods featuring a great mix of cafes and restaurants serving a wide variety of cooking styles and cultures. The suburb has one of the highest concentrations of restaurants, just wander along Crown Street and take your pick of cuisine.
One place of note is The Bourke Street Bakery which has turned into a Sydney institution. And judging by the line up out the door is evidence enough.
22. Sydney Ferry to Manly
A short ferry ride from Circular Quay over to Manly on the Northern Beaches is also a great day trip.
Walk down the Manly corso, then head left at the beach around to Queenscliff beach. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the way, and of course the harbour views on the ferry are amazing.
23. Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is bustling with restaurants, cafes, nightlife, a large kids playground and people aimlessly walking around watching the many buskers and enjoying the sunshine on the water.
If you want to eat here on a budget head to the food court area, or for a night out drinking we suggest starting down on King’s Wharf.
24. Eat in Chinatown
Chinatown in Sydney is a place we venture to quite often.
It’s no secret Sydney can be an expensive place to visit, and one of the best options is to head for the food court on Dixon street, which is the main thoroughfare of Chinatown. There you will find just about every Asian cuisine you can imagine: Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Cambodian, and Vietnamese. Not only that, the dishes are cheap and tasty.
Need a budget pub meal? Possibly the oldest continuously licensed pub in the City of Sydney, the Australian Hotel is an attractive and well preserved example of Edwardian style architecture, and it’s FAMOUS for its Kangaroo and Crocodile pizzas
26. Art Gallery of NSW
The Art Gallery of NSW is one of Australia’s leading art museums. Explore five levels of art with extensive collections of Australian, Aboriginal, European, Asian and contemporary art.
Located adjacent to the Royal Botanic Gardens on Sydney Harbour, the modern and contemporary works are displayed in expansive, light-filled spaces, offering stunning views of Sydney and the harbour.
27. Shop at Paddington Markets
The open-air Paddington Markets come alive every Saturday with 200+ stalls selling unique collectibles and retro, the latest fashion styles, contemporary designed jewellery, home wares, original art, and a wide range of beautiful Australian made goods.
28. Royal Botanical Gardens
You cannot beat the serenity of the city and harbour views from the Botanical Gardens. Spending a day in the Botanical Gardens is a relaxing and free way to spend a day in Sydney.
Take a picnic lunch, a blanket and a bottle of wine. Then take a walk around the gardens to admire the many different types of plants and city views. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is one of the best vantage points in Sydney.
This hostel is set amongst the cobble stoned alleyways, heritage buildings, and quiet laneways of this historic area. Sydney Harbour YHA is built over the remnants of an archeological dig of white Australia’s first settlement and lies only 500m from where the First Fleet landed to start the colony.
Nothing can beat the views that you can get from the rooftop at the hostel, taking in Australia’s two most well known icons; The Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
30. Taronga Zoo
The World Class Taronga Zoo is situated on Sydney Harbour in a natural bushland setting with spectacular views out over the Harbour.
There are a wide variety of animals from around the world, animal shows, keeper talks and animal encounters all day making it a great family outing.
31. Sydney Aquarium
The Sydney Aquarium showcases over 12,000 aquatic animals in spectacular habitat displays, including the world’s largest Great Barrier Reef exhibit and amazing underwater viewing tunnels.
See Australia’s unique aquatic life up close, including one of the world’s largest and most impressive collections of sharks, elusive platypuses, beautiful seahorses, giant turtles, jellyfish, thousands of tropical fish, gigantic stingrays, and much more.
Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Photographer
32. Camp on Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island originated as a place to house convicts. What was once an island covered with red gums and frequented by cockatoos is now a World Heritage Site home to historic buildings and an old navy ship building yard.
33. Walk Around
Sydney is a very walkable city. I often like to walk down from Central station to Circular Quay so I can feel the beat of the city for a short 20 minute stroll. You never know what you might discover.
There are plenty of great inner city neighbourhoods for you to check out for great cafes, dining and pub scene. Besides the Rocks, Glebe, Surrey Hills and Balmain are a few others.
Need More Sydney Tips?
Check out our Sydney City Guide for tips on where to eat, sleep, drink, shop, walk and much more!
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